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East Central University’s Veterans Upward Bound Program, in the spirit of “A Day of Remembrance,” will host Veterans and Military Appreciation Day at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 19, at the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center.

Events actually begin at 9 a.m. with vendor tables.

The program will feature guest speaker Waco Blakely, OEF/OIF veteran, who is transition patient advocate at the Oklahoma City V.A. Medical Center and president of “Honoring America’s Warriors.” Also on the program will be the presentation of the Bret D. Isenhower Scholarship.

Lunch is being provided on a first-come, first-serve basis after the program. The event is made possible through generous donations and is free and open to the public. Nearly 50 vendors will be on hand for the event as well.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Muskogee Regional Office as well as the Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs will be in attendance, along with representatives from many other programs, organizations and businesses that serve veterans and their families will be coming to provide information and answer questions.

Following lunch, there will be a speed sharing session in which one representative from each program will be able to share information for a couple of minutes. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the different organizations.

Born in Weatherford in 1971 to proud parents Gary and Bonnie Blakely, Waco grew up with a strong interest in sports, hunting, motorcycles and family military history.

Blakely eagerly enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on Feb. 20, 1990. He initially served as a combat aircraft refueler at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan until he was recommended for Marine Embassy Security Guard School at Quantico, Va. After completing the demanding training, Blakely was assigned to protect the American Embassy in Paris, France and later served at the American Embassy in Vienna, Austria.

He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in July of 1994.

In March of 1999, Blakely again chose the military, joining the Oklahoma Air National Guard where he still served as a First Sergeant in the 205th Engineering and Installation Squadron. He proudly volunteered and served in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom with three deployments.

Blakely’s career started at the Oklahoma City Vet Center, Readjustment Counseling Service, in February 2005 as the readjustment counseling technician. He served in that role for more than two years with a great deal of enthusiasm for all community and military related outreach events.

In May 2007, Blakely joined the Oklahoma City V.A. Medical Center, where he took on the newly created role as the OEF/OIF transition patient advocate. His goal is to meet with each and every OEF/OIF veteran and assist them into the V.A. Healthcare System.  His rapport and personal attention as an OEF/OIF veteran ensures that the first impression is a lasting one.

For questions or more information contact Mary Meeks at 580-559-5541 or via email at



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